Duke Divinity Students Offer Death Row Inmates a Chance to Tell Their Stories | Triangulator | Indy Week
Pin It

Duke Divinity Students Offer Death Row Inmates a Chance to Tell Their Stories 

They say it's not about redemption—that providing North Carolina's 150 death row inmates with a voice is an opportunity to both restore a sense of humanity among the condemned and give those outside the walls of Central Prison a chance to "look within" and, perhaps, contribute to the national debate over the death penalty.

But Life Lines, an audio journal for the 147 men and three women living on the row created by Duke University Divinity School graduates Chris Agoranos and Lars Åkerson—not to be confused with LifeLines, a British group that writes letters to condemned inmates all over the U.S.—isn't about taking a political stand.

"I think the voices speak for themselves, so we don't really need to take a firm position," Åkerson says. "And it's been amazing to hear the guys' reflections on it and to hear how enthusiastic they are just to be heard. Something as simple as a telephone or hearing someone else's voice. It's been revolutionary for them."

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION BY STEVE OLIVA
  • Illustration by Steve Oliva

With a recent change in phone-access policy—until June, inmates were only authorized to make one ten-minute call a year, but now they can make calls more frequently—they saw a chance to let the inmates' stories be heard. And the inmates embraced the Life Lines concept. To date, more than a dozen clips have been recorded.

In one, George Wilkerson—a Randolph County man convicted in 2006 of murdering an eighteen-year-old over a $30 drug theft—recites a poem he wrote called "Who Am I?" "I come from the broken playground, littered with crack pipes, bullet shells, and busted beer bottles, my mom's walk and stale nicotine," he says on the recording, which can be heard on the Life Lines SoundCloud page (soundcloud.com/lifelinesjournal). "I belong to my dad's hard, heavy leather belt, our dingy apartment in the projects, and crispy, spicy, sour-smelling kimchi."

But in order to fully realize their dream—an ongoing project that includes voices from death rows all over the country—Agoranos and Åkerson are asking for the public's help. Life Lines is currently an active project on Kickstarter. With less than a week remaining, it's raised just over $6,000 of its $16,000 goal. That money would go toward paying for prisoners' phone calls, which aren't cheap.

"We say that this is about recovering humanity on the inside and outside the walls," Agoranos says. "It causes us to look within. I would want this to help someone think about how they have been taught to see people that are incarcerated as like these irredeemable criminals worthy of death. And I think, you know, maybe as the lights go off, you begin to see, 'I've made mistakes, too.'"

triangulator@indyweek.com

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Triangulator



Twitter Activity

Comments

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. ... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and …

by Tryan Banme on A History of Donald Trump’s Racism, Abridged (Triangulator)

"Computer-driven vehicles? Really? We've been saying that for the last 30 years."

?! The hardware for a fully autonomous …

by Mark Bahner on Environmentalists Aren’t Happy About the NCDOT’s Plan to Finish the I-540 Beltway (Triangulator)

Most Recent Comments

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. ... They're sending people that have lots of problems, and …

by Tryan Banme on A History of Donald Trump’s Racism, Abridged (Triangulator)

"Computer-driven vehicles? Really? We've been saying that for the last 30 years."

?! The hardware for a fully autonomous …

by Mark Bahner on Environmentalists Aren’t Happy About the NCDOT’s Plan to Finish the I-540 Beltway (Triangulator)

Computer-driven vehicles? Really? We've been saying that for the last 30 years.

And even if that managed to come …

by Mark Neill on Environmentalists Aren’t Happy About the NCDOT’s Plan to Finish the I-540 Beltway (Triangulator)

It's a very bad time to do any transportation project that is capital-intensive and long-term. The reason is that computer-driven …

by Mark Bahner on Environmentalists Aren’t Happy About the NCDOT’s Plan to Finish the I-540 Beltway (Triangulator)

Seriously? Time for opposers to get their heads out of the sand and see that Raleigh's growth is blowing up. …

by Granted on Environmentalists Aren’t Happy About the NCDOT’s Plan to Finish the I-540 Beltway (Triangulator)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation